Where Music & Dance Fall Face First Into The Internet

Thursday, September 23, 2010

White Elephant Club: Skultar Review

The first batch of songs from the White Elephant Music Club have been posted, and are available for free download on BandCamp. Let's go back & review the challenge:

"The challenge is simple, write and record a song with a Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery theme."
It's really more complex than that short statement. There's various ways to get 'bonus' points by pimping Skultar, but I don't wanna go over all that again.

Since this is the first time I've done a White Elephant review I guess I'll do it like my Song Fight reviews. Which means I'll mention my favorites, and if another song sparks a comment I feel might be helpful (good or bad) I'll mention it. So it's more of a list of favorites than a real review...but it's my blog so deal with it.

Chris Cogott: "Skultar" - The opening is exactly what I expected to hear from these songs. Drums, drums & more drums. Sounded like the opening to a Skultar movie. This is the first finished song I sat down to review, and it set the bar high...real high.
<a href="http://whiteelephantmusic.bandcamp.com/track/skultar">Skultar by White Elephant Music Club</a>

Jutze: "Planet Earth Role Playing" - This might be the best song I've heard from Jutze. I don't think the direction he took will end up getting him the victory, but the song was catchy. Few of the lines didn't seem inspired, but I really did enjoy this tune.
<a href="http://whiteelephantmusic.bandcamp.com/track/planet-earth-role-playing">Planet Earth Role Playing by White Elephant Music Club</a>

Kevin Savino-Riker: Skultar's Blade - I told Kevin on Twitter that I didn't think I'd given a positive death metal review before. This isn't going to change that fact, but I do think the song meets the challenge very well. Sounds like something a barbarian would like, and I enjoyed the lyrics....well READING the lyrics... :p My personal dislike for death metal means I wouldn't listen to this outside of reviewing it probably.
<a href="http://whiteelephantmusic.bandcamp.com/track/skultars-blade">Skultar's Blade by White Elephant Music Club</a>

JoAnn Abbott: The Ballad Of Skultar - I felt like it was story time back at the daycare. I know JoAnn is limited when it comes to instruments, but this just doesn't work for me without some sort of music holding everything together.

Emperor Gum: Iphis And Ianthee - Having not watched Conan, Red Sonja or anything like that in awhile...if someone would have told me that 0:16-1:23 was a midi arrangement of a score from one of those films...I'd have believed it. Unfortunately the music changes pace after that, and again there's some recording issues. The fuzz is annoying, and I didn't get into the lyrics. Really thought you were onto something with the long opening, and I'm wondering why you changed it up?

wait, WHAT?: S-K-U-L-T-A-R - There's some very funny stuff in this song. A couple lines did nothing for me, but then others had me almost falling out of my chair....especially the 'dyslexics' line. I want you in SpinTunes. Someone make this happen.
<a href="http://whiteelephantmusic.bandcamp.com/track/s-k-u-l-t-a-r">S-K-U-L-T-A-R by White Elephant Music Club</a>

Boffo Yux Dudes: Roll Dem Bones, Skultar - I heard a draft of this before, and it got me more excited to hear the results of this contest. This song uses more of the Skultar back story than others, and that's a good & bad thing. For my personal listening pleasures I don't give a rats ass about Skultar, so I don't always like having to look up info to get a song. On the other hand, for this particular challenge it's probably going to work out well for the Boffo Yux Dudes in the contest.
<a href="http://whiteelephantmusic.bandcamp.com/track/roll-dem-bones-skultar">Roll Dem Bones, Skultar by White Elephant Music Club</a>

Heather Miller: The Ballad Of Skultar - To me this song just sounds to 'sweet' when using lines like "The blades will slash and blood will flow". There were a couple bad transitions, but my big issue was the sweetness of the music & singing in comparison to the actual lyrics.

Side Notes:
- Well done Russ & everyone involved. I would suggest not making people give their e-mails to download a song in the future. I hate being added to a mailing list just to download a song. Small complaint considering...

- I actually commented on every song...didn't plan on that...don't get used to it.

- I have no say in who wins, but my favorite song was from Chris.

- Chris DID end up winning, so I picked a winner this time. Congrats on a great song Chris.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

For Orchestra 42 & 43

Walt Ribeiro recently covered someone from "Masters Of Song Fu" & "Song Fight" with his For Orchestra project.

For Orchestra #42: "Ikea" by Jonathan Coulton

For Orchestra #43: "Oh Mandy" by The Spinto Band

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This Is The Army (1943)

If you didn't guess by the date in the title, it's time for another movie review...or at least what passes as a review on this blog. I recently watched "This Is The Army" starring George Murphy & Ronald Reagan. George Murphy plays a song & dance man drafted into WW1. The army puts his talents to use by putting on a stage show & entertaining the troops. Eventually he gets combat duty, gets injured, but does return home. Later on his son (Ronald Reagan) joins the army at the start of WW2. Like his father he ends up putting on a stage show & entertaining the troops before heading off for combat duty. The story isn't much more than an excuse to tie together A LOT of patriotic musical numbers. This movie was shot in black & white, but I can't remember a film with more red, white & blue in it. Honestly there were only a few numbers that stood out to me, but given the time this movie was released it's not hard to understand why it was the biggest money maker of 1943. (according to IMDB)

All the music is by the great Irving Berlin, and much of it from a show he was involved in (Yip Yip Yaphank) back during WW1. Irving even sings one of his numbers toward the end of the film. Overall I wouldn't recommend you watching this film unless you're just a huge Irving Berlin nut.

Alan Hale is mildly entertaining at times. Dan Dailey can be seen breifly in an uncredited appearance. And at one point I saw someone I knew from another project, but couldn't figure out WHO it was. Eventually I had to go to IMDB to find out, and it turns out it was Herbet Anderson (aka the dad from "Dennis The Menace"). The only other thing I can think to mention is that Kate Smith (The Songbird Of The South) sings "God Bless America". It was written back in 1918, but Kate is the one who first sang it in 1938.

Oh, How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning
Fun Fact from IMDB: "When Irving Berlin was filming his rendition of "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning", one of the stagehands, unaware of who the singer was, supposedly said that if the guy who wrote the song could hear Berlin's singing, he'd roll over in his grave."

That's What The Well-Dressed Man In Harlem Will Wear
James Cross performing the only notable dance routine in the film.

Roxie Hart (1942)
Ok, this movie isn't really worth reviewing. It wasn't really a 'musical', and it wasn't very good. I watched it for 1 reason...Ginger Rogers was in it. William Frawley (Fred Mertz) had a small roll, and there was only 1 dance routine worth sharing. Too my surprize I did find a 2nd number that had been cut from the film. Thank you YouTube. It's the second video below.

Taping Scene
Not a bad routine considering she's on stairs & in heels.

Charleston Cut Scene
This was not included in the final version of the film.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Justin Bieber Can't Sing

I'm posting this for 2 reasons: Peter Chao makes me laugh & I want to see if mentioning Justin Bieber in the title gets me more page views. :P

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Interview With The Boogie Woogie Kid

One of my favorite piano players recently posted an interview he did on public access TV. Matthew Ball is one hell of a boogie woogie pianist. If I was to list my favorite YouTube piano players my top 3 would be: Matthew Ball, Mike Lombardo & Scott Bradlee. So get to know a little more about Matthew by watching the 2 part interview below.

Part 2

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Song Fight Review: We Do All The Style

The last challenge over at Song Fight was titled "The Rumor Lives Strong", and I predicted that Berkeley Social Scene would win. Turns out that this time I was right. There's a whole new batch of songs over at Song Fight, so I suggest you go pick your favorite songs for the current round. My picks are listed below:

Voted For:
(Right Click "Save As" on the artist's name for a MP3 of their entry.)

Ross Durand - Walk-off home run. You can all go home now. (it should be noted that I listened to this song last)

King Arthur - Thank you...I didn't think I was going to vote for anyone until I heard this. The story was fun, but it was a bit odd hearing that type of music while singing about websites, Italian tile, etc... You took a crappy prompt & still made a completely entertaining song. Well done.

(Head over to Song Fight to listen to these songs.)

Bad Boys At Bat Mitzvahs - I did get a little lost in the music. Pretty cool & laid back. Vocals weren't great, but good enough. What hurt this song was the lyrics & topic in general. Who the fuck cares about a song that's about getting a hair cut? Not only that, but you don't do anything creative in going that route either. Bland on top of bland...the lyrics had no thought put into them. I'm guessing you ran short of time & ideas & tackled the music first.

Berkeley Social Scene - Purdy vocals...music was tight...again the lyrics didn't do anything for me.

Metaluna - Loved the instrumental towards the end. Had me doin' some air guitar & bangin' my head a little. Lyrics still ain't cuttin' it...

Side Notes:
- Going into this round, I thought the title for the fight was stupid.

- Personally I enjoy a good story, and one that's not too ambiguous. I place more importance on that than even the music.

- With this prompt I couldn't see many interesting stories being told. Unfortunately not many of the musicians who took on this challenge could either.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Martin And Lewis With Anne Baxter

A new episode of my favorite podcast was recently uploaded. "The Comedic Genius Of Martin And Lewis" features the lovely Anne Baxter this time. You can go see the show notes, and download the podcast HERE.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lyrical Venus

I was planning on talking about a podcast called "Lyrical Venus" today. It's a show that promotes various indie female musicians, and it's hosted by Heather Miller. (a SpinTunes competitor) A recent episode featured piano playing vixen Denise Hudson. (another SpinTunes competitor) Since I know each of these lovely ladies a little bit, I was looking forward to hearing Heather's interview of Denise....which can be found HERE. One problem...

Windows Media Player cannot play the file. The Player might not support the file type or might not support the codec that was used to compress the file.
Stupid error message... So I haven't listened yet...but I'm getting on my other computer as soon as I type & post this. I'll be listening shortly.

PS: I stumbled onto an old music video by Green Jello called "Little Pig, Little Pig". You've probably already seen it, but it reminded me of the first CD I ever bought. Yes, it's a shame the first CD I bought is this Green Jello CD...but you have to admit the video was pretty cool at the time. I just felt like sharing that.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Songwriting Cycle

A few days ago I mentioned something called the White Elephant Music Club. Yesterday I found out about another side project being done by more friends of mine. This one is called Songwriting Cycle, and was put together by Edric Haleen. In short there's a group of musicains, and each one is allowed to give someone else in the group a songwriting challenge. So everyone provides & completes a totally different challenge. If this sounds familiar to you it should...at least if you're a Spintown regular or SongFighter it should.

Awhile back Jon Eric started something called Circle Of Titles and I reviewed it here at Spintown (My Review). It was basically the same idea, the only difference is that Jon decided to have people create song titles like Song Fight. Edric is having people create challenge more like SpinTunes.

Everyone participating in this new project was a participant in SpinTunes #1, but Edric has left it open so that anyone can join in the fun. He has done so by creating bonus challenges. If you were not invited to join in this project (it was invite only), you can complete one of the 2 bonus challenges & have your song posted with theirs. Edric asked if I could upload the songs onto the Spintown bandcamp page, so it looks like that's where you'll be able to get them in the near future.

Side Notes:

...invitations went to people who had NEVER MISSED A DEADLINE in Song Fu/SpinTunes? The cyclical nature of the "album" we're creating kind of requires that EVERY song get done and submitted, to avoid breaking the chain. So -- for this first time out -- I tried to increase the odds of getting 100% participation by starting with people with flawless track records of song submission. (Which meant that there are some people I REALLY would have liked to have involved that I didn't end up inviting!) - Edric Haleen
Edric wanted me to mention that, but I figured it was just easier to copy & paste his words.

I look forward to seeing what the White Elephant Music Club & Edric's Songwriting Cycle will produce. But I really think that anyone interested in this type of thing should join the Song Fight Forums. Even if you don't like how Song Fight has people write songs for provided titles, there are a number of side projects (side fights) that take place. I mentioned Jon Eric's project already, but there are others that could be of interest to people as well. You can join the community without actually participating in the main fights. There are other cool things that pop up in the forums so please...check it out. Not only are there neat projects that get started in the forums, but there's a great community of people with similar interests.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Words And Music (1948)

It's been a rough couple nights. Not because my knee was hurting or because I ate too much pizza before bed, but because I sat through 2 extremely disappointing movies. The first of which is "Words And Music" (as you might have guessed), starring Mickey Rooney & Tom Drake. Going into the movie I only knew that it was about Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart (famous songwriting team), and that it starred Mickey Rooney. Then I took a look at the cast & got really excited, because it was packed full of stars that I've enjoyed watching.

After watching the film I couldn't believe how bad it was. Not only was it dull, but it didn't even make sense half the time. Mickey Rooney's character (Lorenz Hart) was annoying as hell, and Tom Drake (Richard Rodgers) had the personality of a cardboard box. After I watched the film I went to IMDB to read up a little about the film & I wasn't shocked to read about all the inaccuracies in the film.

With all the musical numbers in this film I'm tempted to tell you to watch it with your thumb on the fast forward button. However looking back there were only a few numbers that stood out for me so I can't even advise that. How can you make a musical about an interesting topic, with a ton of great stars (June Allyson, Perry Como, Lena Horne, Cyd Charisse, Ann Sothern, Mel Torme & more...), and still totally fuck everything up?

There were a few high points, but they were few & far between. The coolest moment of this movie was when Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland sang "I Wish I Were In Love Again". It's a song from the 1937 Broadway production of "Babes In Arms". Mickey & Judy of course starred in the film version, and this number was not in the film. So not only do you get to see one of the greatest teams in movie musical history get back together, but there's a NEW connection to one of their old films. I couldn't find video on YouTube of this performance...just an audio track.

Betty Garrett & Janet Leigh both have supporting roles in this film. Betty sings a pretty tune, and Janet does a good job of looking pretty. But it just made me want to watch "My Sister Eileen" (1955), and turn this crap off.

One thing I noticed on IMDB was that Dee Turnell (I've never heard of her before) has been in a TON of my favorite movies. For instance: "The Band Wagon", "Singin' In The Rain", "An American In Paris", "Royal Wedding", "Neptune's Daughter", "The Barkleys Of Broadway" & "Easter Parade". I guess someone who has been in all those movies can be forgiven for being in this pile of shit.

Slaughter On Tenth Avenue
If you're a Gene Kelly fan you've probably seen this number, even if you haven't seen this movie. Here Gene dances with the lovely Vera-Ellen in a dramatic routine.

Mountain Greenery
In the film this song is sung by Perry Como...but whenever I hear this song I think of my favorite TV show of all time, "The Dick Van Dyke Show". That show just seems like the perfect time in American history. Anyone who has watched the show knows that nobody throws a party like Rob & Laura Petrie. Since I want to get my mind off the movie...enjoy this clip of Dick Van Dyke & Mary Tyler Moore.

Fun Facts:
"The innumerable anachronisms include clothes, cars, musical numbers are attributed incorrectly to various productions, an unmentioned 7-year age difference between Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers, Hart's homosexuality is obviously not addressed (conflict seemingly changed to anxiety over his height), strange leaps in time (The Garbo poster from Camille (1936) is shown soon after their 1925 hit revue Garrick Gaieties. One of the main productions depicted is 1927's hit musical comedy "A Connecticut Yankee" that shows up on screen long after the Garbo poster. More oddly, Perry Como's character Eddie Anders incongruently shifts to Perry Como (!) in the last minutes of the film." - IMDB

"Richard Rodgers reportedly disliked every aspect of this film except for the casting of Janet Leigh as his wife." - IMDB

"Judy Garland was scheduled only to sing with Mickey Rooney in this film, and producer Arthur Freed offered her $50,000 (or half of what she owed the studio for medical bills) to do one take. At the first public screening, the fans asked for more of her, so Freed offered her another $50,000 to do a second song. By the time her scenes were filmed, she had paid back the studio but had made nothing." - IMDB

Summer Holiday (1948)
This was the other movie I mentioned at the start of this blog post. It at least made sense throughout the film, but it was rather dull. Mickey Rooney once again played an extremely annoying character. Gloria DeHaven was cute, but forgettable. Walter Huston & Frank Morgan did an alright job with what they were given, but they can't work miracles. Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins, who played the kid brother, did an alright job at getting a chuckle here & there. I'm sorry I can't go into much detail with this film...the first one sucked all the life out of me. The high point of the film is when Mickey Rooney & Gloria DeHaven sing "Afraid To Fall In Love". Fortunately it's near the beginning, so you can quit watching after that number without wasting too much of your time.

PS: If there's more mistakes than usual in this post...it's late, I'm tired...deal with it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Power Of Music

I saw this when Mike Lombardo tweeted about it a couple days ago....thought it was pretty cool.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Song Fight Review: The Rumor Lives Strong

The last challenge over at Song Fight was titled "When Did You Know", and I predicted that Jon Eric & Friends would win. I was wrong, but the only other person I voted for was Ross Durand, and he tied with PiGPEN to share the victory. There's a whole new batch of songs over at Song Fight, so I suggest you go pick your favorite songs for the current round. My picks are listed below:

Voted For:
(Right Click "Save As" on the artist's name for a MP3 of their entry.)

Berkeley Social Scene - The music felt precarious, dangerous, insecure.... All good things since that's the way you feel when you're performing a balancing act trying to keep a lie or rumor going. Well done.

Steve Durand - Great music, fun song & I enjoyed the ending. I wish I could be constructive & not just give you a well done...but...well done.

King Arthur - Loved most of the lyrics...aside from the last rhyme with 'strong'. King Kong felt phoned in. The story telling was great, and you once again contributed one of my favorite entries.

Rik Gerblick - Most people wrote from the POV of someone being talked about or having heard rumors about a significant other. Enjoyed the fact you decided to write from the POV of the person who accidentally started a rumor. I'm guessing you recorded this with the volume low or something? I had to jack mine up just to heard it. New recording would be cool.

Josh Millard - Was thrilled about the vocals...but the music was alright. Could have done without the short instrumental toward the end. Really dug the lyrics though.

I misread the title as "The Rumor Is Strong" - Josh Millard
I know it's not required that you use the title of the fight in the song (although I generally knock people who don't). I'll be nice this time since you had a misunderstanding of sorts...

(Head over to Song Fight to listen to these songs.)

Bad Boys At Bat Mitzvahs - Maybe it could use a little bit of an intro? Enjoyed the song, but the story feels a bit rushed. I looked up the a bit of the history this song references and there's plenty of material to add a little to the story:
"On the morning of April 7, 1869, a fire spread at the 800 foot level in the Yellow Jacket Mine. Firefighters entered the mine but the smoke and flames pushed them back. As the fire burned, wood timbers collapsed and poisonous air expanded into the adjacent Kentucky and Crown Point mines. The fires persisted and mine sections were sealed off and remained hot for several years. At least thirty five miners died, and some bodies were never retrieved. The Yellow Jacket Mine fire was the worst mining accident in Nevada history up to that time." - Wikipedia
Neat idea using the Virginia City gold rush & the Yellow Jacket Mine fire.

The Chthriplings - Was starting to dig the song, and just when it starts picking up....it ends???? Go back & finish it.

Bob Lazo - I liked this entry, but the recording seems a bit muffled? I wanted the vocals to pop more, because unless you really focus you don't pick up on most of them. I know NOTHING about recording or mixing, so I don't know what to tell you other than that.

Feat - I felt like I should have been in some dark smokey coffee house listening to unwashed longhaired nut jobs reading poetry. Well done, not really my try of music, but it was entertaining the first time around.

Hoglen And Wages - Enjoyed the music.
"I'm also interested to hear views of the lyrics. Who knows what it is about? At what point did you know?" - Wages
I have I feeling I'm in the vast minority...but I didn't know. I know it's about the Beatles...but I don't know much about them.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

White Elephant

Russ Rogers of Godz Poodlz has started a Facebook songwriting club called "White Elephant Music Club". Why anyone would want to use Facebook is beyond me, but I plan on reviewing the songs when they come out. From what I can tell it's a mix of Song Fu, Song Fight & Nur Ein. The challenges seem to be Song Fu like, it's going to have a panel of judges like Nur Ein & it's only a 1 round contest like Song Fight.

The first challenge of the club was just announced a couple hours ago.

The challenge is simple, write and record a song with a Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery theme.

The song must be at least 2 minutes long. It can be in any style with any instrumentation. But the song must have lyrics. Instrumentals will be posted as "shadow entries," people will get a chance to hear them with the other songs, but they won't be considered for the "Grand Prize."
Now it's a little more complex than the small section I quoted above. There's a number of ways to get 'bonus points', all of which include pimping the White Elephant Club & Skultar. Skultar is a Conan like character created by Mark Wheatley & M.J. Butler, and they are sponsoring the contest.

Nothing against Skultar, but I really hope people don't focus too much on the bonus points.

The deadline to turn in your song is September 20th, 11:59 PM, Pacific Time. The winner will be announced on September 30th, and for more details just visit the White Elephant Music Club.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Current Hits In 1920's Style

I should have posted this yesterday. I sub Scott Bradlee on YouTube, and planned on posting this when I first saw it. College Humor ended up featuring it first (thunder stealer), but if you haven't watched this medley yet...you should.

Featured Songs:
#10 Magic - B.o.B ft. Rivers Cuomo
#9 Just the Way You Are - Bruno Mars
#8 California Gurls - Katy Perry
#7 Cooler Than Me - Mike Posner
#6 Right Above It - Lil Wayne Ft. Drake
#5 Dj Got Us Fallin' In Love - Usher ft. Pitbull
#4 I Like It - Enrique Iglesias ft. Pitbull
#3 Teenage Dream - Katy Perry
#2 Dynamite - Taio Cruz
#1 Love The Way You Lie - Eminem ft. Rihanna